Two things jump out at me in this year’s distributor survey: Obtaining financing for newly constructed stores continues to be a burden, and distributors are still unsure about how their businesses will fare this year. These are just two of the things covered in American Coin-Op’s annual distributor survey.Every distributor on American Coin-Op’s mailing list was invited to participate in this unscientific survey.2008 BUSINESSForty-two percent of respondents said business (sales of newly constructed stores and replacement business) was better in 2008 than 2007. Thirty-five percent said business was worse in 2008 than 2007, and 23% said business was the same in both years.For those with a business increase last year, the top two reasons cited are improved marketing efforts and a better sales staff. In addition, some distributors benefited from working in areas with population increases.For those distributors experiencing a decrease in business last year, the No. 1 reason, by far, was the economy. Fewer investors inquired about getting into the industry, distributors report.REPLACEMENT BUSINESSAre operators adding to their stores? Forty percent of distributors saw replacement business rise in 2008, while 29% saw replacement business dip. Thirty-one percent say replacement business was the same in 2008 as it was in 2007.The figures in this category have fluctuated a bit in the last three surveys. Two years ago, 54% saw a bump in replacement business, yet four years ago, that figure was only 43%.OPEN FOR BUSINESSDistributors were asked how many new laundries they built and/or to whom they supplied equipment in 2008. Forty-two percent of distributors built or supplied equipment to three or fewer new laundries.With how many new laundries are distributors dealing in some fashion? The most popular answers, in descending order, are four, two, six, zero, and three.Distributors were also asked if their 2008 new-construction total was more, less or the same when compared to 2007. Thirty-five percent said new construction was up in 2008, 44% said new construction was down, and 21% said it was the same in 2007 as in 2008.FILLING YOUR STOREHow many machines are distributors putting in new stores? Are owners finally starting to shy away from top loaders? If you’re currently looking for the ideal equipment mix, take a look at what distributors are installing throughout the country.Sixty percent of the new stores had at least one top loader (down from 69% in last year’s survey). More specifically, the most popular numbers of top loaders put into new stores in 2008 are:
Newly constructed laundries in 2008 have 5.8 top loaders. (This figure factors in the stores with no top loaders.)The most common numbers of front loaders installed in newly constructed laundries last year are:
Newly constructed laundries in 2008 have an average of 27.8 front loaders. This is identical to the last survey.The most popular numbers of dryer pockets in stores are:
The average newly constructed laundry in 2008 has 32 dryer pockets — a slight dip from the prior survey (35.2 pockets).Come back on Friday for Part 2 of this story!